How do I handle my pride?

February 8, 2021

A friend recently asked me, "How do I handle my pride?" And, then he followed up and said, "Maybe you can do a blog post about that." So, here you go!

The Short Answer

For those of you who want an answer within a few words, this part is for you. First a definition, then an attempted answer.

A Definition

First, how are we defining pride in this instance? I'm going to put it in my own words.

Pride is an unhealthy overestimation of one's own self-worth which inevitably sabotages one's ability to properly view and relate to other people and circumstances. In the Christian perspective, this is described as a sinful disposition - against God and others.

We use the word "pride" to designate something other than the definition above. So, not every form of pride is bad. For example, pride in our accomplishments does not have to be an unhealthy overestimation.

An Attempted Answer

At the core of this type of pride is an unhealthy overestimation of one's own self-worth. So how do you get the right estimation of self-worth? This goes back to worth-ship (worship). Understanding God's worth as the origin of all worth is essential to the answer. But merely understanding God's worth isn't enough. A true understanding of God's worth will always send you into a state of awe. It will put you right to praising and worship.

So, here is the short, short answer to, "How do I handle my pride?"

Pride is always properly handled through the proper worship of God.

A Slightly Longer Answer

As we consider how to handle pride, a helpful case study in the Scriptures is that of Satan himself. Those who are familiar with Christian teaching will know the story of Satan's fall in heaven. Satan, an angel created by God,1 sought to exalt himself over God. There was a rebellion in heaven, Satan gained a following of some of the other angels, and Satan and these angels were cast out of heaven. These angels are commonly referred to as fallen angels or as demons.

It is noteworthy to look at the two passages in the Old Testament that are credited with giving us the story of Satan's fall. Neither passage is absolutely clear that Satan is being referred to; however, both passages seem to be indicating something more than the earthly leader referred to in the context of the passage.

1 I believe in a six-day creation. We do not know what day of creation that the angels were created on.

The King of Babylon

Isaiah 14:12-14 give us a taunt against the King of Babylon:

How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” (NIV).

The King of Tyre

Ezekiel 28:2, 14-17 give us a prophecy against the King of Tyre:

“ ‘In the pride of your heart you say, “I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas.” But you are a mere mortal and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god...

14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings. (NIV).

Notice in both of these passages how pride caused these leaders (and seemingly Satan himself) to react wrong toward God, towards other people, and towards their circumstances. Ultimately pride carries people in a wave of self-importance to a position of a god. There is no other destination for this type of pride.

Another Consideration

This final aspect I'm going to share to help us deal with our pride might seem a little out of the way. However, in the last year, it became a big consideration in my thinking. The Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy prepares the heart of the nation of Israel as they get ready to take occupation of the land. Deuteronomy 6:10-15 is one of the many preparatory warnings it gives. I believe this warning touches on an essential way to handle our pride:

10 “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth. (ESV)

Notice the key part to the warning here: that in the midst of abundance, we do not forget what God has done for us. And then, notice what comes next! The proper worship of God!

Summary

My short attempt at handling pride was:

Pride is always properly handled through the proper worship of God.

We can see how damaging pride can be through the two Old Testament passages we looked at. And, we can see how we can get distracted by the abundance that God gave us, forget God and fail to worship God - all the while thinking of ourselves higher than we ought to think. Many professing Christians are practical atheists. They barely make time for the personal worship and communion with God. They might spend small, token amounts with God; however, this provides a fertile ground for the pride we say we want to avoid.

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